Category Archives: The Learning Process

Letters California Style 2017

Over Presidents’ Day weekend, I had the best time at Letters California Style, the member’s conference that takes place every year on that weekend, organized by Society for Calligraphy in Southern California. This year I was in Robbie Saslow‘s class, “Fabulous and Functional: The Art of Certificates and Scrolls,” along with nine other calligraphers from California, Texas, Nevada, and Washington State. We all enjoyed learning from Robbie who shared wonderful stories, knowledge, and great tips! He was such a fantastic instructor.

Robbie doing a class demo.

Our first class assignment was to create a certificate, picking one out of three choices with different criteria and styles. Most in the class opted for a certificate for the “Golden Poppy Society of Southern California” (a fictitious organization). We sketched drafts and worked on our designs with Robbie’s guidance for the first two days:

Snap shots from class: Robbie doing a demo and shared his beautiful work for the Los Angeles County; beautiful certificates done by Schin Loong, Diane Reiter, Kathy Barker, and Cindy Haller.

I ended up choosing a baby name certificate, which had the requirement of: baby name should be prominent, with a style that is casual, playful but clean, no pink, and must have three cats. I felt it was the most comfortable for me to dive into!

Rough draft of my certificate.

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with this one, using pointed pen styles, sketching cats, lettering with colored pencils and using green with FineTec gold!

Continue reading

A Sharp Pencil and a Keen Eye

Last weekend, I spent the weekend in San Diego learning from Amity Parks! I was really sad to have missed the opportunity to learn from her last year, so I was glad that San Diego Fellow Calligraphers invited her to teach her workshop A Sharp Pencil and a Keen Eye, and they had an opening!

The last time I visited San Diego was in 2013 for Pat Blair’s Copperplate workshop, and I really enjoyed the experience. SDFC’s classroom space is big and open, and everyone was so kind and welcoming.

Amity demos for our class

Continue reading

The Passionate Pointed Brush

Julie Wildman (left) speaks to the class

I attended a wonderful Society for Calligraphy workshop over the weekend – The Passionate Pointed Brush with Julie Wildman who was visiting us from Chicago! Julie has been working as a designer and artist for over 25 years.

The class took place on the campus of Cal State Long Beach. The classroom was nice and big, and we had so much room on big work tables!

My practice sheet, with name tag lettered by Julie

I have always loved the pointed brush. It’s definitely quite challenging because it is so different from using a steel nib. Julie shared some great exemplars with us, including her own, as well as work from pointed brush master calligraphers such as John Stevens, Yves Leterme, and Carl Rohrs. She also showed us letterform variations, such as the different ways to do each letter. I loved watching her do demo – she has such great control of the pointed brush and has such a light touch.

Continue reading

A Show of Hands 2016

North Carolina hospitality

I just spent a week at A Show of Hands, the 2016 International Calligraphy Conference, and I had one of the most fun calligraphy experiences ever.

This was my first time in North Carolina, and the town of Asheville was just so beautiful and green. I got an AirBnB off-campus with five other calligraphy friends, and we had the best time hanging out, attending classes, and learning in a wonderful atmosphere. The conference took place on the campus of Warren Wilson College which had beautiful grounds, with blooming flowers in the midst of summer.

 

Continue reading

From Pointed Pen to Pointed Brush

Hello Chicago!

Disclaimer: Unlike many people, I’m not much of a traveler. Never have been. I’m mostly okay with road trips, but I really dislike flying where so many factors can throw things off, and everything is (literally) up in the air. To me, the “getting there” part is a huge hassle and a giant stress-inducer. And it’s worse when I’m without a travel companion.

But now I say: I will travel for calligraphy :-)

And this is where I found myself, a Southern California girl who had never experienced any temperature less than 40°F, in the middle of January, in the beautiful city of Chicago, where it was a balmy… 28°F. And now I can look back, smile and say: I went to Chicago to study with IAMPETH Master Penman Mike Kecseg for a weekend!

Ever since I was introduced to his Pointed Pen Variations (the exemplar is available in the Speedball Textbook), I’ve been wanting to learn from Mike himself. When an opportunity came up with the Chicago Calligraphy Collective, I just couldn’t pass up the chance. I joined the CCC and mailed in my check and registration form right on opening day back in September, and was lucky enough to get a seat!

Continue reading

Folded Pen is Fun

20150308_foldedpen1

March 8th is International Women’s Day!

 

I’m a little late to the party, but I am now in love with my new folded pen. I always found it very intimidating (“you’re supposed to make letters with THAT?!”) and never felt confident enough to try one until a few weeks ago.

20150308_foldedpen2

“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” –Nietzsche

When I was at Letters California Style last month, I was so inspired by everything I saw – not just the pointed pen work in my class, but also the beauty of creating letterforms that was happening in all the classrooms.

Paper and Ink Arts was our official supply vendor, and I only purchased class supplies on the first day. On the last day, I decided to pick up a folded pen on a whim. I figured, why not? And when I finally got to try it, it was so much fun!

20150308_foldedpen4

“I am no bird – and no net ensnares me.” -from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

"The Heart wants what it wants" –Emily Dickinson

“The Heart wants what it wants” –Emily Dickinson

The Emily Dickinson quote above was done using gouache – I tried to switch colors for the bottom half of the quote. Easier said than done!

20150308_foldedpen5

I also tried folded pen with PearlEx pigment – this one is Solar Gold. The texture of the ink on black paper and the strokes of the folded pen is wonderful.

I have to say, the folded pen takes some getting used to. You kind of have to just dip it in ink and give it a go, to feel how to get thick and thin lines to produce variations, and just have fun with it. As with any kind of good lettering, the key is consistency – which is something I’m still struggling with / need working on. Some people may think using a folded pen is chaotic, but if you take a closer look at folded pen pieces done by the masters, there is always consistency, power and rhythm in the chaos.

I have so much love for the folded pen, and so much respect to those who use it masterfully.

If you’re on Instagram, join us for #FoldedPenFriday every week!

 

 

Letters California Style 2015

The welcome banner

Whenever I meet a local calligraphy friend online, I always tell them to join the Society for Calligraphy. Not only will they get to take wonderful workshops year-round, they are also eligible to attend Letters California Style, the member conference that takes place every year on Presidents’ Day weekend.

Last year, I got a small taste of it with a mini workshop, and this year I was so excited to be fully immersed in the Letters experience! I got into Jane Shibata’s “Pointed Pen Variations” class, which was exactly what I wanted. After taking Jane’s workshop on the same subject two years ago, I have been practicing on my own, but really wanted to further refine my script. I was more than happy to learn from Jane again for four days!

Jane shares her work with us

We were given her exemplars and meticulous notes which were so very helpful as she showed us how to achieve details that make each letter beautiful. Jane’s pointed pen work is exquisite, and as she was doing demos for us, she made it look so very easy! Of course it’s from years of study and practice, and I found it so inspiring.

Continue reading

New Lighting Setup for Winter

As a hobby photographer and online vendor for many years, whenever anyone asks me for photography tips, I always say natural light is best. But when you have a day job like me – leave the house at sunrise and come home after dark – natural light isn’t really an option. So I’ve been making do with my desktop lighting as soon as Daylight Saving Time ended here in California. It’s fine for sharing on social media, but not good enough for my online shop updates.

My husband photographs many vintage housewares for his resale business and depends on natural light for his product photos. It doesn’t rain much here, but sometimes the lighting is just not exactly right. This year, he had a “beginner’s photography light kit” on his Christmas wish list and I guess Santa obliged (thanks to my awesome in-laws)! We set it up over the weekend to test it out.

20141227_light1

Such a “professional” setting in our dining room. LOL.

If anyone comes over for dinner, I promise you won’t be interrogated by us! The kit sets up and breaks down quite easily and doesn’t take up too much space.

And of course I had to try it out for my calligraphy work! :)

20141227_light2

I picked a particular difficult one to photograph – Antique Gold star dream envelope from Paper Source, lettered in Sumi ink. The gold shimmer is tough to capture, and sometimes Sumi ink ends up reflecting the light. I usually lay the envelopes flat on a white surface when photographing with natural light, but in this case, it just looked a little too flat and harsh. I ended up propping the envelope on a stand, and with our pale blue-gray wall in the background, it was exactly what I wanted.

20141227_light3

I will still choose natural light over artificial light, but this is the next best thing until Spring comes again.

There are many kits available on amazon that fit all budgets and item sizes. It’s great for us since we will be using it for both our business ventures.